What Will Travel Look Like Post COVID

I am looking at the EasyJet sales again! You can get from London to Portugal, Morocco, Madeira or The Azores for under £50 return in some cases.

30th January 2021

Alex Gash

If you plan to travel post-lockdown, it has never been easier – and many of us cannot wait to travel again. But for others, the thought of sitting down and sharing air with dozens of other passengers is not a risk they are willing to take. 

In the last year, the travel industry has lost 20 years of growth. Since the pandemic started, thousands of planes have been grounded and thirty airlines have gone under. For the companies that are still here, debts have skyrocketed. Some travel companies have merged to survive, while others like STA haven’t been so lucky.

But, what is travel going to look like post-COVID? In this article, I’ll try to explain.

Nomading Will Go Mainstream

I have done a lot of travelling in the past. With the shift to remote working, everyone who had a desk job is now considering what to do next, companies who go remote-first are going to free their staff up to living better, happier and more fulfilled lives. I miss running on the beach in Portugal with the sun on my face or going into the sea for a sundown surf session in Morocco. Thankfully, I am not stuck in a pokey little flat in London. But I know what life I’d prefer! 

Platforms like Airbnb, NomadX and Flatio will make long-term stays much more affordable. If you look at any listing in mainland Europe on Airbnb, some hosts are offering up to 50% off on stays at some pretty swanky homes.

On top of this, platforms like NomadX embrace the need for services tailored specifically for digital nomads, partnering directly with local governments to create customs facilities specifically designed for this new way of working. The first NomadX digital nomad campus has launched on the island of Madeira. I see these kinds of campuses opening up across the world, where before this was highly focused around Bali, Indonesia. 

Flatio takes a different approach. Their platform not only lets you book flats in major European destinations. But as an industry first, it also helps hotels create new products for the digital nomad, such as long-term stays in luxury hotels at fantastic rates. This helps hotels earn essential revenue in an industry that is not likely to fully recover until 2023. 

The End of Cheap Travel

Sad news for those travel addicts who enjoyed £100 return Ryanair flights to pretty much any destination in Europe – airfares will start to increase dramatically in 2022. The reason for this is airlines will need to plug the huge debt-piles that they accrued during COVID. They will inevitably find even more innovative ways to make your ticket more expensive on checkout – you don’t have to take my word for it, just get to the checkout at any major airline with one bag. 

For the next couple of years, learning how to pack light is going to be very important when travelling. It will save you upwards of £80+ per return trip from now on. If you know you are going to fly frequently, it is worth purchasing an easyJet plus or equivalent membership.

Disruptors Will Save The Industry

Being the founder of a travel startup doesn’t sound so hot right now. But, they should be confident about the future. Corporates are going to be desperate to attract new, innovative ideas to make themselves more competitive – enabling them to fill planes, sell package holidays, build trust, improve customer service and increase customer lifetime value. 

Luxury Travel Will Bounce Back First

With the government printing what it appears to be an infinite amount of money, the wealthy are set to win from the COVID stimulus schemes. Stock markets are going gangbusters thanks to ultra-low bond yields. For those with an appetite for making money, times have never been better – especially if you have direct access to Matt Hancock ‘PPE Moneybags WhatsApp’ Group!

If it wasn’t for COVID, the HNW jetsetters would be yachting, skiing, snorkelling and partying to their heart’s content. If you’re in the travel industry, this is the segment I would bet on recovering first as there is plenty of pent up demand. Customers are asset rich and have a bank account full of savings thanks to the pandemic. These are just a few of the businesses set to benefit from the luxury travel boom:

Quintessentially

Luxury Concierge

The less you know, the more elusive it can be. You’ve probably never heard of this company – if you have, you are definitely in the right circles. If you are a member of this private club, then I tip my hat to you. Quintessentially dedicates itself to serving those with the fanciest desires in the world. Their team has created a 360-degree lifestyle offering, with services in travel, real estate, education and personal shopping. 

Quintessentially Personal Life Luxury Concierge

Mr & Mrs Smith

Luxury Hotels

Launched by Tarmarah and James Lohan, Mr & Mrs Smith is THE hotel travel site – with highly-curated, carefully-selected hotels that ooze with character and have decor that would tickle Picasso’s fancy. Their listings range from country cottages, exuberant manor houses, cracking castles and pads in jungle treetops. 

Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels Luxury Travel

SailSterling

Luxury Boats

Have you ever met someone who loves to sail? If you have, you’ll know they never stop talking about it. This is a great thing for SailSterling. This London-based startup creates bespoke and off-the-shelf packages for those who love being out on the open ocean. Their marketplace allows customers to rent some of the swankiest sailboats on the seven seas.  

SailSterling London Travel Startup Sailing

Private Jet Operators

If you had the means, would you fly in style? Companies like Privatefly, Netjets and FlyVictor are all already benefiting from the real and present danger that COVID presents. Families and friends are travelling together on private jets more than ever before. A return 4-hour flight time private jet is likely to set one back an impressive £40k.

Whoever said money doesn’t buy you happiness was a fool!

Turbulence Ahead For The Wider Travel Industry

The travel industry is never going to look the same again after COVID. The industry has been on its knees for the past 12 months, with that comes piles of debt and a share selloff that has eliminated 10 years of gains. Now that the world is dedicated to vaccinating the global population, travel companies will see a rally over the next three months (TUI stock is already up 21% from the start of 2021). More companies will fail or merge. New companies will spring up. Beyond the stock market, there is little consensus among analysts around when international travel will bounce back. 

Stats from the UNTWO COVID-19 impact assessment on international tourism industry:

Massive Losses In Travel
Massive Losses

Losses were 10x the crisis in 2009.

Fewer Arrivals

1bn fewer international tourist arrivals in 2020

COVID Impact On Global GDP
Cost To GDP

Cost of $2trn in global GDP

What are the main factors weighing on the recovery of international tourism?

When do you expect a rebound in international tourism in your country?

The Road To Recovery

It’s clear there are hard times ahead for the travel industry. Many people will take some persuading before they feel it’s safe enough to get on a plane, then explore a foreign country. However, many people are ready to take that leap and start seeing the world again. The companies that emerge from the pandemic the strongest will be the ones that identify these people, providing them a great experience.

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